tv [untitled] June 23, 2012 12:30pm-1:00pm EDT
your house. they drew the line at burning and i found no evidence that they ever set fire to the home, but every time they did it, more would-be new york settlers went back to albany and swore out affidavits and there is a vast record of these atrocities or defense movements, however you want to characterize them and showing these claims and in four years as allen and the green mountain boys successfully held off new yorkers as they called them and after four years, ethan allen and his officers were denominated outlaws. the new york provincial assembly passed a law putting a price of 100 pounds sterling which was an awful lot of money at the time and 50 on each of his captains. allen's response was to put a price on the head of the attorney general of new york should he dare to come into
vermont territory, but if he had been caught at any time he could have been hung without a trial and it was a very serious thing, and it became law. what i mean by that is he was the first to come up with the idea that lake sham plachamplaiy to the defense of new england and other colonies. so when word came of lexington and concord, ethan allen sent a letter to oliver woolcot of the committee correspondents of connecticut in which he proposed seizing the canon of lake sham plain and then leading an invasion of canada before the british could reinforce from england and he was commissioned a connecticut colonel and the green mountain boys were pressed into service and so he organized
an expedition against ticonderoga, and he had formed his own company of soldiers and outfitted them and put them all in bright red uniforms and had heard of lexington and marched with his men some of the male students toward boston to volunteer for the fight there and arnold was given a commission by massachusetts and you had both of them in a footrace to get to ti conned roinga, and arnold showed up all spit and polished and the vermont fellows weren't going have anything to do with him.an and polished and the vermont fellows weren't going have anything to do with him. they drifted off to the side of the field while arnold and ira negotiated. arnold showed up without a weapon, he was so full of
enthusiasm and gave the game away to the british by sending a message through to albany saying he was coming with supplies, et cetera, but they worked out a negotiation so they became the co-commandants and at 4:00 in the morning of may 10, 1775, & after a stormy night of lake sham plain they had the 2 thousand boys they had promised to muster, 89 across the lake and attacked fort ticonderoga. how did they know what to do? allen had spent two spies in, to the fort barber for a haircut and they'd figured out the lay of the land. it was peacetime to those garrisons. they hadn't heard of lexington and concord. a british letter had to go to halifax, quebec, montreal and st. john and then down lake
champlain to get to ticonderoga. all knew what was going on. allen and ira stormed the fort. they took everyone prisoner. no one was hurt. no one was killed. they found 90 gallons of rum that belonged to tcommandant. e than allen wrote out a chip that he would pay the commandant at some future time and he sent off 85 prisoners and 60 women and children to connecticut. now, part of what i've had to do is sort of debunk that attack that one of the most famous lines in early american history is what ethan allen supposedly said to the commandant at ticonderoga, and he wrote the line himself several years later. i guess he figured he couldn't get the real thing through the printer and what became said is by whose authority do you demand it? he said in the name of jehovah
and the continental congress, but according to a young man who was there and the british subat earn whoey hoo said was come out of there you damned old rat which sounds a little bit more believable. well, it didn't go down well with some of the vermonters. they were afraid that the british would counterattack and allen actually was stripped of his command shortly after this by the town elders of the vermont settlements. he'd been commissioned to colonel after the continental congress after visiting independence home and making a wonderful speech, but that didn't carry much weight in new york especially or in the settlements. so rather than stay out of the fight he became a scout and he went into canada to raise french canadian militia and who buy out the defenses and we say into canada. we're talking about quebec
province which was huge and it was defended by only 600 red coats. 300 of those regulars were tied down on the border at fort st. john and that meant montreal and quebec had the other 300. what allen did not know is that the mohawk nation, under orders from the irkut of the iroquois nation and we didn't know well enough to know they were british citizens from 1715 on. there was never any question which side they were going to be on. so allen's idea was to move quickly, and it was also the idea of george washington who sent benedict arnold with 1,000 men to attack quebec at the same time ethan allen decided without george washington's approval to attack montreal. allen was only able to raise 134
men, paying some french abitant one pence a day which was more cash than they usually had, but the french canadians were unhappy with the british so allen miscalculated and thought he would have much more support from the french canadians and he also thought he'd have more support from the americans, his own cousin, the commander did not show up as he expected with the green mountain boys nor did any of the other americans. basically ethan allenes kroed the st. laurence at night trying to do fort ticonderoga again and he ran into british garrison under commander sir guy carlton with 134 trained troops and 300 mohawk warriors. it was over in about two hours and 45 minutes of wastinga am mission as ethan allen point out as they shot at each other long range until the ind knowia ians
around him and allen had to surrender and that begins one of the most important things that most vermonters and most americans don't know about the saga of prison of ethan allen. he was captured and told he would be sent to england and tried for treason and hand drawn and quartered which was a way of carrying out a sentence of death. so he and the others were put in chains in the hold of a ship in the st. lawrence and they could hear the guns of the americans getting closer and closer arriving just a little too late at montreal as the ship sailed toward england. so you had 34 men in the cage in vile conditions crossing the atlantic in chains in the wintertime and none of them died. these were tough people. allen basically got so enraged at his treatment at one point that he took his manicals and
bit through the chain and he had a bit of a gap and a smile and he was very proud to show it off. when he reached england there was a crowd waving, a very enthusiastic crowd because his fame for taking the king's fort which the british had not been able to take from the french in the french and indian wars had gone ahead of him. so a crowd was waiting as he was marched up the long walk to pendenist castle, a british castle built by henry viii, while the british figured out what to do with him. it shouldn't have been a question. they were rebels and they shouldn't have been hanged, but carlton had decided they would be tried in england and so i was able to find a british cabinet ministry meeting at night in the home of one of the ministers in which they decided the best thing they could do was to get
ethan allen the heck out of england because in parliament, john willks and pro-americans were working up enough votes to get a writ of habeas corpus to get the prisoners tried as civilian prisoners instead of traders. ethan allen would spend much of the next few years getting the heck out of there and on a ship to ireland that was attacking charleston. in the cove, the irish rode out in open boats bringing presents of meat and fruit and beautiful cloth and a dagger and cash. ethan allen managed to keep the cloth, the cash and the dagger. the british ship's captain ate the maet meat and drank the pork. from ireland, the convoy went to the carolinas by way of bermuda. ethan allen still held below
decks and they walked the deck each day. from there he was taken to halifax where he was put in jail and helped the others to escape. he refused to escape and he wanted to be traded as an officer and a gentleman for an officer of equal rank. so he became very ill in the jail in halifax, and eventually he was shipped to manhattan after the british had captured new york where he was put on parole and many had to be in by dark and stay in the township where he was held and not speak against the british and then he and 300 other officers were sent to brooklyn which was farmland at the time and what is now the subway stop in brooklyn. ethan allen was prisoner and he wandered into a taf and eavern d on clams because that's after
what he had to pay as a prisoner. it was too much for him. he broke his parole and crossed to manhattan and saw the horrible conditions of other prisoners. some 10,000 americans died in prison ships in wallabout bay off brooklyn because of that same decision of the british ministers, what they had decided was that habeas corpus could not be served on a ship and so the fate of american prisoners was to be held on ships where virtually all of them died in the course of the war. if you think about it and think where we have prisoners right now it's a base, you have to wonder if there isn't some legacy of that discussion of the british in 1775. well, ethan allen couldn't keep his mouth shut in long island and he complained about the british and this time he was
arrested and taken to the provost jail and put in solitary confinement and he was held in the provost jail for the rest of the 34 months that he spent as a british prisoner. he was able to set up an agreement to trade. they had more than they did. so from the very beginning we took more prisoners than they did and we had more leverage in the exchange. in may of 1778 ethan allen was exchanged for a full colonel of the british regimen and one of the proud moments of his life and he was led from a cavalry escort from elizabeth town new jersey to valley forge where he was ushered into the company of george washington and george washington gave him a review of honor and treated very well and after allen went home to vermont and washington wrote this to
henry lawrence. his fortitude and firmness seems to have placed him out of reach of misfortune. there is, in him, an original something that commands admiration and his long capti captivity and sufferings have only served to increase, if possible, his characteristic, enthusiastic zeal. so that's washington's assessment and very much of the other revolutionary leaders. the first thing ethan allen did when he got back to vermont, fsht the first thing he did, he learned that his brother died a week before, waiting to see if ethan would be coming. he lost his only son. his wife was dying of tu tuberculosis and tb was sweeping the entire frontier and he showed his bitterness to the idea that other americans were fighting against the revolutionaries issa i loyalist
as soon as he got back to vermont. he was made the district attorney and had the fellow hanged who basically was stealing horses and providing it to the british. the rest of the revolutionary war period, he was sick. he was weakened by his captivity. he never held an elective office because he refused to take an oath. he thought that the oaths were purity an and what is a confirmed diest? do they confirm? no. they believe that god was the author of a perfect universe that created everything it wants and that you didn't need anybody to fix it. clergy, miracles, bibles, mysteries, only reason. so he ran everything through
that filter from the time of his captivity and he became very philosophical during those days in confinement. he started to sign his letters -- he started to sign his letters as the -- the -- i'm losing it, but basically the hick philosopher. he used various forms of this. in vermont for five years before the revolution ended, he confiscated loyalist properties and put money in his pocket from each one and kept the family going that way, but the confiscation of loyalist lands paid for the vermont troops in the american revolution and for the defenses at home. so part of ethan allen's legacy and made it popular in vermont when it was over and everyone else did and wanted vermont to pay a share of it. ethan allen negotiated with the british secretly on and off for three years, but from all i can
find from studying those papers which have alludeluded a lot of historians because they were destroyed when the warehouse was burned exactly 100 years ago. but i was able to use the wonderful digitalization of records of the canadians. they're way ahead of us on preserving their materials and you can find the halderman correspondence, as it's called, the correspondence relating to ethan allen ney gosch yagdzs with governor halderman and you can find them digitalized in canada and the originals in the british library. after studying them i found that even the slightest word change can make a terrific difference in the interpretation we get on the historical figures. for example, one day in 1780 the loyalist colonel robinson from new york sent a messenger
through to ethan allen from burlington, vermont and the letter began we are well aware of your comerical schemes and because there was a careless transcript made some time in the 20s, that became we are well aware of the commercial schemes. many historians believe ethan allen was only in it for the money and double dealing with theity brish in the halderman negotiations. once i found that i took a lot longer studying the records and that's why the book took six years, but what i came away with was the idea of a man who had taken his philosophy and putting into action which is a dangerous thing as we have seen in the 20th century. we put our philosophers in the corner of our universities and very rarely let them make policy. but ethan allen put into action
his deism and his philosophy that death was a very natural thing not to be feared, but that you must resist the enemy and you must be brave. the man loved to jump on tree stumps and harangue a crowd and he was often right for doing it. for example, two young girls got lost in the woods one day in 1780s, 4 and 7 years old and when they didn't show up by nightfall, their father went next door and told him and he they organized a search party if for three days and nights they searched and men came from new york to join the search and they couldn't find the girls and on the third day they were about to give up and ethan allen jumped on the tree stump and said, you're parent, how would you feel? could you stop and leave them out there? don't be afraid of the bears and the wolves. you've killed them all. there are no snakes. you've eaten them so the search
party went out again and a few hours later, two hours later the girls were found asleep on a rock where they'd been kept alive eating berries which is f. but it's that kind of thing that's myth but also history. and what i've done is go back and look at the town histories. many of them compiled town by town by abby hemingway in the 1860s and '70s written by the local historians. you get quite a good picture. so when the revolution was over the british finally realized it had been duped. they kept se what they were doing and never had intended to rejoin the british empire. washington wasn't even sure he sent a spy in to find out what ethan allen was going but it was the same spy that oath then allen sent in to ticonderoga, so that didn't work.
when it was over, ethan allen remarried. his wife died of t.b. he married a much younger woman, 26 years old. he was the ill legitimate daughter of a swiss engineer in the british army raised by an aunt who that aunt had married a loyalist who had committed suicide but left 40,000 acres of land in the connecticut valley so she and an aunt were there. i tried to see if they could any of this land. no b h nobody had any money at the end of the revolution. he needed a source of income. proposed to a right of way. he would not take an oath of marriage. but he married anyway. they rode off in a sled in the winter time. and back to benington, where eith either ethan allen was hard at work. 500 something pages called "reason, the only oracle of man." he needed an editor. he never had one.
he apparently dictated all of it. they didn't have spell-check so he must have had a literate clerk. probably a young college graduate who needed some money. but he took the writings that he had started back in salisbury, connecticut, with or there young, the young doctor, and then he got that manuscript from the widow of arthur young who had died in a field hospital trying to help the troops in the revolution. and he sat in benington writing this frontal attack on puritanism in the house he was renting right next door to the puritan clurchurch. if you go to bennington, you won't find the house. they tore it down. but he finished "reason the only oracle." he sold all the land he could. he dissolved the land company that the family had used during the period before the war. he held on to 1500 acres in the river valley and that's where
his homestead has been found and reconstructed. wonderful land on the river. but he finished his book and he had 1500 copies presented at his own expension. only 200 or circulated before the rest were mysteriously burned. now some people in town say that it was god's will and the lightning did it. other people said in town, no, it was the printer, he was scared to death that he was going to be run out of town, too, but they burned. 200 copies circulated. they went to members of congress, they went to governors, they went to parents where ethan allen was corresponding, who wrote the famous letters of an american farmer and actually to paris saw the work of ethan allen just before the french refrigerator lugs. so this has been a wonderful quest for me to see how the man has gone beyond the walls of fort ticonderoga.
tending his garden out of politics on a small piece of land naming one of the three children from that second marriage joseph voltere allen. and he prospered as a farmer as much as he could. raising cattle, trading them to the british. ver hospitmont had free trade w rest of the country couldn't. vermont did not become a state until 1871 after ethan allen died. it came about after a drought in 1988 and '89, the exact same drought that was causing starvation in the streets of paris. i think i'll touch off the french refrigerator lugs. but on february 10th, 1789, oath than allen and one of his two hired men, a free black man named newport, crossed the ice to get a load of hay from a
cousin on one of the islands in lake sham plain. that was the hardest thing for me to find out, the name of this man. he was invisibility to history. i started studying voluminous amounts of town newspaper records and actually found an article in 1943 that identified the farm hand of ethan allen, the name had been passed down among local people. the other farm hand he had had been partially call pd in the attack on montreal and was so poor that somebody tried to sue him and take his gun away because there was so little money on the frontier. ethan allen lept into court and saved him as well. they had a heart in the hero islands of lake champlain and to the green mountain boys when they heard ethan was coming pored in to the cousin of they had a party.
and early next morning as ethan allen and newport crossed the ice, newport noticed that something was wrong. ethan allen had stopped talking. he had slumped over. so i think it's a beautiful endsing for this story because here in this first american state created without slavery, ethan allen's founder died in the arms of a freed slave. i can't make up something like that. it was the largest funeral that had taken place in america until that time. 10,000 people went through the ice and snow to the home of younger brother ira allen on the river to see ethan allen before he was buried on a hilltop overlooking the river. now, he's buried somewhere there. souvenir hunters have stolen everything. we don't know the exact spots. there's no monument at the grave. but there's a 40-foot column with a ridiculous figure on it
that is supposed to look like ethan allen. one of the problems i had with this book is, what did he look like? painters couldn't make a living on the frontier unless they were doing wawainscoting. so there were no images from life. what i discovered the families of the founding fathers there were doing a few generations later is they were getting together for fourth of july and they were talking about what their ancestors looked like, something like what you do to a police artist, basically. and so the first governor of vermont, there was no portrait. thomas, but if you have seen one you've seen them all. there are still plenty in vermont. same bushy eyebrows, et cetera. ethan allen, i was able to verify somewhat what he looked like because jp morgan who was buying everything he could about that period bought etchings of revolutionary officers and they're held in the morgan library. and there there's an image of ethan allen which matches almost
exactly the image in the first really good biography of ethan allen done by john pel in 1929. it's not this. it's not this. this is the statue given to vermont, vermont's place in statuary hall here in the nation's capitol in the 1870s. each state got one and vermont got ethan allen where he looks remarkably like marlon brando playing napoleon. everything is wrong about it. it's a revolutionary hat with a french revolutionary concave. the rest of it, i think, is right but that's not ethan allen. the family actually came up with a composite sketch of him which is in the book. this is the first illustrated biography of ethan allen. i went to great pains to come up with pictures of the different versions of him. but there was a composite describing what he looked like at the end of his captivity as a prisoner of war.
i think that's the closest because i've seen other allens including his sixth grandson who helped me start this work by giving me all the ethan allen books anybody had ever printed on him and he's a dead ringer for the prisoner of war. that's the study of ethan allen. why don't we know more about it? well, because he took on the puritan clergy. and they lived after he died. one missionary from new haven came up and literally stomped on ethan allen's grave. timothy dwight, the president of el university said on february 12th, ethan allen, the general from vermont and great blass feeler died and he resides in hell where he looks up forever toward heaven from the flames. you get the idea. and that went from pulpit to pulpit to pulpit until ethan allen's memory went to pulp along with it. it was